After losing the entire second half, the Kent State men’s basketball team finally regained the lead over Western Michigan with 1:30 on the clock.
Senior guard Rod Sherman’s one-handed slam boosted the Flashes up 69-68.
But a pair of Bronco free throws left Kent State behind again.
With 1:06 remaining, junior guard Michael Porrini sank an acrobatic jumper and was fouled on the way down. His effortless foul shot made it 72-70 in the Flashes’ favor.
Just 20 seconds later, Western Michigan scored again, tying the teams at 72-72.
Porrini rebounded the basket before Kent State coach Geno Ford quickly used the team’s final timeout.
“The rebound is what won us the game,” Ford said.
In the remaining time, the Kent State guards passed the ball back and forth — eating up the clock and deciding on who had the best look.
The ball went to Porrini, who shot and scored the game-winning basket with just two seconds on the clock.
“I was trying to get to the hole and possibly draw a foul,” Porrini said. “But they played off me a bit, so I pulled up and hit the jumper. We got what we really wanted.”
Western Michigan tried to launch the ball to the end of its silent arena for a last-effort shot, but the ball was stolen in midair by Porrini.
“It’s hard to win close games,” Ford said. “I don’t know the last time we won by less than ten points.”
As if the Cinderella story could not get any better, the 74-72 victory over Western Michigan on Monday tied the Flashes with Miami for first place in the Mid-American Conference East.
Porrini led the Flashes in points with 19, but Sherman and junior forward Justin Greene were not far behind with 14 each.
And while the Flashes (18-9, 9-3 Mid-American Conference) may have earned the first basket, Western Michigan (15-11, 7-5 MAC) used a seven-point run to get back the lead.
“They had us beat,” Ford said. “We just had a couple plays.”
Sophomore guard Randal Holt recharged his teammates with 6:35 left in the first half.
After rebounding a missed Bronco free throw, Holt dribbled down for a one-handed slam and a 28-26 lead. Within the next 15 seconds, Holt successfully fired again.
Greene tightened the game to a 34-32 Kent State lead with 1:40 on the clock.
But Western Michigan not only tied it up in the remaining minute, it also blocked and slam-dunked its way to a 41-34 lead at the half.
Two minutes into the second half, Kent State coach Geno Ford’s frustration got the best of him and caused a technical team foul.
But the outburst motivated the Flashes to channel their anger into an eight-point run.
The defensive game picked up as well, forcing 17 Western Michigan turnovers.
“We had to defend it, and gut it out in the end,” Porrini said.
After splitting their four-game road series, the Flashes finally return home to face Buffalo on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.
Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]